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«Neighbour Lizard»

Portuguese double bass player Nelson Cascais initiated the Neighbour Lizard quartet – featuring alto sax player João Mortágua, guitarist André Fernandes and drummer and keyboards player João Lencastre, during the 2021 Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. Each of the four musicians was invited to write two compositions for the debut album of Neighbour Lizard which was recorded at Timbuktu Studios in  Lisbon in April 2022. Cascais wanted to counteract the strong, individual voices of this quartet with a democratic, leaderless jazz band identity and to create a sonic entity where the whole is greater than its parts.

Cascais’ concept triggered fresh and spontaneous dynamics for the newly-founded quartet and encouraged taking risks and experimenting. His own «Turritopsis Nutricula», titled after the mysterious deep water creature, offers an urgent and dense, free improvised interplay that uncovers a fleeting melodic vein. Mortágua’s breezy «Poro» takes Neighbour Lizard deep into a straight-ahead jazz improvisation based on playful chord changes. Fernandes’ «Humano Sintético» spins the quartet course again into a heavily sampled, prog-rock piece, and Lencatre’s title piece highlights the empathic, conversational dynamics of Neighbour Lizard.

Cascais’ «Vampyroteutis Infernalis», named again after another deep water creature, rides in a driving rock pulse and pushes Mortágua and Fernandes to trade powerful solos. Fernandes’ brief «Bebinks» suggests a chaotic and open improvisation while Lencastre’s «Zoladkowa» sketches a mysterious, dramatic atmosphere with cinematic qualities. Mortágua’s «ACM» closes this fine album by this promising quartet with a lyrical, openly emotional touch.

Eyal Hareuveni

João Mortágua (as), André Fernandes (g), Nelson Cascais (b), João Lencastre (dr, keys)

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